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Browsing posts in: Confessions

Spending and Budget Surprises


Editorial note: This post was supposed to be published August 6th but was lost in the digital ether. I will catch you up today and tomorrow and then we will be back on track with a real-time update Wednesday! 

A lot has happened since I last wrote, in both life and spending. 

Budgeting success thanks to a reader comment

Firstly, thank you to Margann34 for recommending the EveryDollar app. It’s exactly what I need! With the Mint app, my student loan and investments wouldn’t sync, and YNAB is having issues with almost all of my financial institutions (they worked in the past – what a pain!). Well, I set up EveryDollar and spent the last six days tracking each transaction in there. It was eye-opening, to say the least. I went to the grocery store every single day since Friday, including on a statutory holiday Monday (laws surrounding holiday store closures have loosened recently, and most grocery stores are now open). 

EveryDollar spending

Visit from an old friend

My best friend from Ottawa visits about once a year, and he came over Friday. We had planned to go out that evening, and prior to that, I made us steaks and served wine. We ended up heading out with mutual friends and dancing the night away. Between groceries for dinner, my Uber contributions, a couple of rounds of drinks, and dim sum brunch the next morning, seeing Dan cost me $210.

Downtown with friends

On the one hand, that is staggering, but on the other, that’s a really inexpensive 16 hours in downtown Toronto. We ate at home, went to a bar with no cover and $3 drinks (drinks are usually $10+ at any places people in their 30s go), and then went for cheap dim sum in Chinatown the next morning. I need to be more up front with my friends about my financial goals, certainly. This isn’t a hit to my budget (yet). I have some room for this spending if I am “good” the rest of the month!

A worrying turn for my dog

Rosie has an auto-immune condition that has been under control with diet for the past 20 months. Swimming used to cause her terrible rashes due to allergies, but she’s been fine for a couple of years. After being in the water for three days straight at the cottage, Rosie had a reaction from head to toe. On a related note, she had a few lumps removed in December 2017 and one ended up being malignant. She always has a few lumps, and the vet said to keep an eye on them and only bring her in if the lumps are bothering her. The swim caused her to go after one of her bad-looking lumps. I woke up at 4AM last week to her crying. There was blood all over her bed and the floor. She had gotten to two of her lumps and they were nasty, hard ones (the ones the vet doesn’t like).

In a terrifying coincidence, she also got in to the garbage over the weekend and ate THREE old cobs of corn(!!!). I found out when she fainted from lethargy and her stomach was almost bursting, it was so taut. This has never happened in her life because I am militant about keeping the garbage locked up. Labs and garbage = moth to a flame. We had a double whammy emergency vet visit and I am so glad she survived without surgery. She puked up the cobs on her own.

What does this mean for the August budget?

I don’t know yet how this will look for the budget. Rosie has insurance, but the one thing the insurance doesn’t cover is lump removal as it was a pre-existing condition. Insurance should cover the visit over the weekend and the subsequent steroid prescription, but I won’t know for a few days how much my co-pay is. If she needs surgery, it cost about $700 all-in last time (tests beforehand, surgery, and follow up care) and that would eat up my entire savings account. It might be more responsible to put that on a credit card and continue building emergency savings so I don’t end up homeless. I’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. Today is the vet visit to check out what is in the lumps and determine if they need to be removed. I’ll keep you posted.

(This airline pillow-looking thing keeps her from biting her skin)

Where I Went Wrong Last Week


This post has been one I’ve been dreading for a few days, because I let myself down. There was another post I had planned for today, but it hinged on me actually working on the steps that I mentioned in my last post, and I took none of those steps. Not a one. This week was a professional and emotional hurricane, as many weeks have been for me this summer. That’s not an excuse, and I need to plan for these better.  

Professional challenges

It’s another new work-week, and I am profoundly behind on everything. It’s not usually like this. The project I’m on, which was supposed to take about two weeks, has taken over six weeks so far. We continue to find new pieces to add into the scope of the project, and it’s exhausting. Some curveballs lobbed out of nowhere have meant that my carefully-crafted agenda might as well be garbage. Those surprises landed me with two full days of crisis calls, culminating with the senior VPs and I hanging up the phone at 8:30PM Friday night. Prior to that, on Wednesday I was woken at 5AM for a similar work emergency. That one concluded with me wrapping up one of my employees’ shifts at 7PM. I had called him in early to help and there was no one else to cover the evening.

As the person who manages the people who support our products and clients, I sometimes need to drop everything and set up a command center when things go awry (as seen Wednesday and Friday). The other days of the week, I worked until 8 or 9 PM trying to get ahead on the project that won’t end. The demoralizing thing is that I am an exempt employee, so there is no overtime pay in my future. My boss is generous with bonuses, raises, and stock options, and I can take almost unlimited time off when it’s slow. Historically, I’ve tended to not do that, but that changes now! Dedicated vacation time is the first thing I’ll take once my new hire is trained, late summer. 

Emotional Challenges

My ex (Mike) has been at my house, helping with my animals and housekeeping. He’s happily unemployed and is the only person available who knows how to care for my diabetic cat. I am eternally grateful he has been able to give me a hand, but it’s messy and difficult for each of us. I am not paying him, but I did get him some wine and steaks to say thanks. He’s been eating all his meals here, but they’ve been cheap. We went for half-price chicken wings on Tuesday and he paid for himself (we each paid $20 tax and tip included). Otherwise, we have eating inexpensive leftovers. had fish tacos for a couple days made from frozen fish, and I also made a giant pot of chicken soup from some chicken in the freezer and stock made from veggie and bone scraps laying around. I did a big shopping trip on Sunday and he sent me money for his share, so if he’s around this week, it will cost me nothing. 

What to do next? 

I don’t want to make promises I can’t keep. My checking account has about $150 and other than $15 I’ll need for some groceries towards the end of the week, I don’t need to spend any more money. This workweek is going to be just as hard as the last one, and my single objective will be to minimize spending. I’m in the middle of my rent paycheque, which is usually difficult to save money on. I need emergency meals for the freezer at home and work, and I’ll have some ready to bring in for Tuesday. 

Next up is a spending diary for this paycheck on Thursday. My next paycheck is Friday, and I’ll set aside my first big chunk of money into savings then. I’m giving myself a deadline of August 9th for those calls to my service providers. It will take time to inquire about lowering fees and to get a meeting at the bank about consolidating debt. Realistic goals are important here!